Society's ChildS


Rights of fetus versus mother: The state intervenes with an ever heavier hand

womens rights pregnancy
Alicia Beltran, 28, was sent to a drug-treatment center despite insisting she was not using drugs.
Alicia Beltran cried with fear and disbelief when county sheriffs surrounded her home on July 18 and took her in handcuffs to a holding cell.

She was 14 weeks pregnant and thought she had done the right thing when, at a prenatal checkup, she described a pill addiction the previous year and said she had ended it on her own - something later verified by a urine test. But now an apparently skeptical doctor and a social worker accused her of endangering her unborn child because she had refused to accept their order to start on an anti-addiction drug.

Ms. Beltran, 28, was taken in shackles before a family court commissioner who, she says, brushed aside her pleas for a lawyer. To her astonishment, the court had already appointed a legal guardian for the fetus.

"I didn't know unborn children had lawyers," recalled Ms. Beltran, now six months pregnant, after returning to her home north of Milwaukee from a court-ordered 78-day stay at a drug treatment center. "I said, 'Where's my lawyer?' "

Under a Wisconsin law known as the "cocaine mom" act when it was adopted in 1998, child-welfare authorities can forcibly confine a pregnant woman who uses illegal drugs or alcohol "to a severe degree," and who refuses to accept treatment.

Now, with Ms. Beltran's detention as Exhibit A, that law is being challenged as unconstitutional in a federal suit filed this month, the first in federal court to challenge this kind of fetal protection law. Its opponents are hoping to set an important precedent in the continuing tug of war over the rights of pregnant women and legal status of the unborn.

Wisconsin is one of four states, along with Minnesota, Oklahoma and South Dakota, with laws specifically granting authorities the power to confine pregnant women for substance abuse. But many other states use civil-confinement, child-protection or assorted criminal laws to force women into treatment programs or punish them for taking drugs.

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Maryland's trick-or-treater finds sewing needle in candy

Washington -- A little boy trick or treating in the neighborhood of Cherry Lane Farms in Maryland's Calvert County unwrapped a dangerous surprise on Halloween night when he opened his candy. He found a sewing needle inside a candy bar wrapper, WJLA reports.

The boy wasn't hurt, but his parents and others in the neighborhood are very concerned. Police say a sewing needle was discovered inside a Hershey chocolate bar wrapper.


Flashback Parents of Hana Williams, Sean Paddock and Lydia Schatz "train" them to death following teachings of Michael Pearl

© Lemley ChapelHana Grace-Rose Williams
Sean Paddock suffocated when he was wrapped too tightly in blankets.

Lydia Schatz died after being spanked for several hours.

And Hana Grace-Rose Williams, of Sedro-Woolley, was left out in the cold, where she died naked, face down in the mud.

The deaths of the three children occurred in different parts of the country - North Carolina, California and Washington - but each allegedly happened at the hands of their parents, all of whom were charged with murder.

The parents had several things in common: They adopted children, home-schooled them and lashed them with quarter-inch-diameter plastic tubes. They also used the child-rearing teachings of a Tennessee evangelist, Michael Pearl, and his wife, Debi.

The Pearls wrote "To Train Up a Child," first published in 1994, and which teaches parents how to use a "switch" to make their children obey. Michael Pearl says it has sold more than 670,000 copies, been translated into a dozen languages and is popular with some Christians who home-school their children.

The authors say raising a child is as simple as training a dog, and they cite biblical verses supporting use of the "rod." Their website includes comments from many followers who say they have successfully raised happy, obedient children using the Pearls' principles.

The Pearls, however, issue a warning to parents: Never spank in anger. And they say many people have "misconstrued" their words.

Critics claim the couple's advice amounts to a prescription for child abuse.

"It's truly an evil book," said Michael Ramsey, the district attorney for Butte County, Calif.

Comment: See:
Justice for Hana and Immanuel Williams, victims of 'religious' child abuse
The real Michael Pearl: dangerous advocate of child corporal punishment

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Justice for Hana and Immanuel Williams, victims of 'religious' child abuse

Hana Williams
I usually don't follow criminal trials very closely, but I did in the case of Hana and Immanuel Williams. In 2008, the two had been adopted from Ethiopia by Larry and Carri Williams. The couple brought the girl and boy to live with them and their seven biological children in their gated-community home in Sedro-Woolley, Washington. Hana was estimated to have been ten years of age when she was adopted. Immanuel was seven.

Three years later, Hana was dead due to hypothermia that was aggravated by malnutrition. Immanuel also suffered abuse but survived.

When the jury returned to the standing-room-only courtroom last night, I set my Twitter page to search for "#Williamstrial" and refreshed the page every minute. And I wasn't alone. I had joined a 4700-member Facebook group set up to memorialize Hana. Here, members were also glued to Twitter, posting information as it came in.

"Courtroom benches are PACKED. Row of people standing in the back. Still just waiting," tweeted Gina Cole, a reporter with the Skagit Valley Herald. Also: "Larry and Carri just locked eyes. Depending on verdicts and sentences, it could be one of their last looks for a long time."

I first learned about the case when Larry and Carri Williams were arrested on murder charges in September of 2011. I happened to be in Seattle at the time giving talks about religious child maltreatment. Seattle is about an hour away from where the family lived. The details of the case were startling: Hana died in the backyard of the family's home. She was grossly underweight and had been left outside on a very cold night for hours. The eight surviving children had been removed by Child Protective Services.

After reading witness accounts and news reports, I began picking up on some familiar-sounding details: Larry and Carri Williams expected complete obedience of their children, especially of Hana and Immanuel. The parents were devout Christians who home schooled their children. They played audio recordings of Bible verses and Christian music during punishments, and there was talk in the household of Hana being possessed by demons. Also, investigators found in the home To Train Up a Child.

Comment: See also:
Corpses Don't Rebel: A former follower of Michael Pearl's "To Train Up A Child" reacts to the death of Hana Williams
The real Michael Pearl: dangerous advocate of child corporal punishment


Flashback The real Michael Pearl: Dangerous advocate of child corporal punishment

Both TV and print media have pitted me against Michael Pearl, as I have been vocal about my concerns that his teachings about childrearing are dangerous. I have written extensively about Pearl in Breaking Their Will, and this is the second blog I have posted about him.

The pro-spanking, Tennessee-based Christian preacher has become a highly controversial figure, as three children have died at the hands of his followers. [Follow up: On September 9, 2013 Larry and Carri Williams were convicted on charges resulting from the death of their adopted daughter Hana and injuries sustained by their adopted son Immanuel.]

As Pearl notes both on his website and in his book To Train Up a Child, which has sold in the hundreds of thousands, children should not be disciplined but "trained", and he repeatedly states that this can often be accomplished by spanking them. (Pearl prefers the word "spanking" over "corporal punishment".) To back up his views, Pearl, who has had no training in child psychology, quotes from the Old Testament, maintaining that God wants parents to spank their kids.

Pearl's methods include making children who are challenged with potty training take cold baths, denying food to disobedient children, and whipping them with quarter-inch plumbing line. Pearl sees nothing wrong with applying his techniques to infants. One expert recently denounced Pearl's techniques as interfering with child development. Most alarming, some children have been seriously abused by adults who were followers of Pearl. Three children have been killed.

Comment: See also: Corpses Don't Rebel: A former follower of Michael Pearl's "To Train Up A Child" reacts to the death of Hana Williams


Chinese boy jumps 30 floors to his death after psychopathic teacher orders him to jump out of building

© AFPA banner, which reads 'Return my son! Explain to all parents and kids', is displayed on the gate of a primary school on Thursday after a child committed suicide in Chengdu, southwest China's Sichuan province.
A 10-year-old Chinese boy jumped 30 floors to his death after failing to write a self-criticism letter demanded by his teacher, state media reported on Thursday.

The fifth-grade primary school student had been ordered to write a 1,000-character apology by his teacher for talking in class, China National Radio (CNR) reported on its website, citing a neighbour.

The educator allegedly told him to jump out of a building after he failed to complete the task, the report quoted relatives and the neighbour as saying.

"Teacher, I can't do it," was found written in one of his textbooks, CNR said. "I flinched several times when I tried to jump from the building."

The child smashed into a parked car beneath the flat where his family live, the West China City News reported.

His furious relatives posted a banner outside the school in the southwestern city of Chengdu reading: "The teacher forced our kid to jump off the building," pictures showed Thursday.


Organized crime may be using private ATMs to launder money

© CBCAnti-money-laundering expert Garry Clement, a former RCMP officer, says it's easy to thwart rules aimed at making it harder for criminals to acquire and operate ATMs
A CBC/Radio-Canada investigation has uncovered methods organized crime may be using to launder money through privately owned automated tellers, or ATMs.

There are almost 38,000 of the ATMs, also known as "white label" cash machines because they are not bank-owned, scattered across the country - nearly double the number of bank-owned ATMs.

It is a growing, lucrative industry. Placed in hotel lobbies, bars and food courts, they provide quick access to cash, albeit with an annoying surcharge.

Anti-money-laundering expert Garry Clement, a former RCMP officer, says it's easy to thwart rules aimed at making it harder for criminals to acquire and operate ATMs. (CBC)

But experts believe some machines may have a more nefarious role.

"Investigations have shown over the years that these white-label ATM machines are in every strip club, every bar throughout Canada," said Garry Clement, an international authority on money laundering and retired RCMP officer who has been warning about the vulnerability of ATMs. "And a lot of them (ATMs) are affiliated with organized crime groups, in particular the Hells Angels or other motorcycle gang groups which are known as organized crime."


Tokyo mother reports Japan's "total media blackout" of people developing symptoms, sickness and death related to Fukushima disaster

World Network For Saving Children From Radiation, Oct. 26, 2013: [...] A case like this is just a tip of iceburg [...] IKKO is a Buddhist monk. His life is ending. He is only 34 years old and lives in Hiwada town [near Koriyama] in Fukushima. He had a heart attack two days ago, and his doctor announced brain death. He is now connected to life-support. My sister in Fukushima knows him through her student [...] She and IKKO got engaged and were planning to get married next year. She has just lost her father from cancer last April. He had worked at Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant [...] My sister was present when IKKO had a heartattack and is in disbelief of what is taking place since he was fine before this [...] There have been many cases of sickness and death among young generations in Fukushima although it is not reported by media.


Former health care worker quit because of Obamacare

© FacebookMichael Gordon Lotfi wrote an open letter to President Barack Obama declaring he will no longer be going into medicine because of Obamacare
A former health care worker and political activist has penned an open letter to President Barack Obama saying he has abandoned his dream of going into medicine, and it's all because of the Affordable Care Act.

"I remember the day Obamacare became law. I was sitting in the hospital working in the anesthesia department part-time to cover the costs of tuition. Dr. Alfery, a mentor of mine, looked over at me and said, 'Run - It's not too late to change majors,'" Michael Gordon Lotfi wrote in the letter, which was first posted online last week and has been viewed more than 86,331 times.

He continued: "Your legislation has caused countless doctors to go into retirement early, opt for cash-only practices, and has discouraged bright, young minds from entering the field."

Lotfi, who graduated from the nursing program at Belmont University in Tennessee in May, is the associate director for the Tenth Amendment Center, a think tank that advocates for a limited federal government.

He told TheBlaze he spent three years as an anesthesiologist technician, but said in his letter he cannot continue in the health care field "with clear conscience" as a result of the new law.

"I have decided that I believe in the principles of a truly free market, and I trust the free market. Because of this deep, internal value system I cannot, with clear conscience, continue on this path. My life has value. Such value cannot be calculated by Washington bureaucrats. I won't allow it. Only a true free-market can accurately assess the value I am capable of," he wrote.

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Photoshop 'body evolution' video blows our minds

We've been told time and time again that Photoshop is playing tricks on us, stretching, smoothing and buffing the models in magazines and ads to make them even more gorgeous (and less realistic).

But just how much can airbrushing really change? Just watch this mind-blowing video (below), "Body Evolution". The video, created in 2011 by to demand mandatory disclaimers on all photos of airbrushed models, demonstrates just how much a computer is capable of changing a body.

While we can't be 100 percent certain the video, which surfaced again recently, is representative of what happens behind-the-scenes at every magazine today, it does make you wonder...

If models are getting the treatment seen in this video, it's no surprise lingerie model Erin Heatherton once said about her photos, "I feel like it looks like someone else. I guess it's not fair... You look better, but it's a lie."